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tv   Confessions of BTK  MSNBC  January 14, 2012 1:00pm-3:00pm PST

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it's just inde scribable. >> there is more on our website about this story. that's all for now i'm ann currie and for all of us here at msnbc news, thanks for joining us. on this edition of "msnbc reports." >> something told me to do this. normal people just don't do this. >> for more than 30 years he lived among us, father, scout leader, serial killer. >> i am btk. i'm the guy they're after. >> now, exclusive jailhouse recordings obtained by nbc news reveal the twisted mind and motives of the notorious killer, dennis rader, the man called btk. >> that's a big thing with me. >> his own chilling words reveal the monster inside the man. still craving attention. >> i feel pretty good. i feel like a star right now. >> no remorse, little emotion.
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>> he talks like he's coming home from a day at the office. >> tears only for himself. >> go out in fresh air, walk your dog. hug your wife. >> a minute by minute, year by year account of rader's crimes and the shattered families left behind. >> a beautiful, loving, kind, gentle person being murdered and dumped out in a ditch like a bag of dirty laundry. >> sentenced to life. >> nancy and his victims will be waiting with god and watching him as he burns in hell. >> you'll hear new details about the capture of the killer who eluded police for three decades. >> what nailed him was his hubris. he went too far. >> edie magnus with exclusive tapes that take us inside the mind of btk. >> he's just evil, evil personified. >> and now, the confessions of btk, here is stone phillips. >> good evening.
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what was so remarkable about the capture of the serial killer called btk was that the man himself seemed so unremarkable. when police announced that this father of two, dennis rader was the killer who had preyed on parents, children, women, the mystery only deepened. who is he? what drove him? tonight, videotapes of a conversation with a killer broadcast for the first time might provide some insight. this jailhouse interview, disturbing as it is, might also offer insight to the families of btk's victims who have struggled for decades with the painful question, why. here's edie magnus. >> reporter: joseph otero, a champion boxer and air force veteran, killed at 38. his wife, julie, proud mother of their five children was 34. their daughter josephine was just 11 years old, son joseph jr. was 9. kathy bright, pretty and popular, whose life ended when she was 21.
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shirley vian, 24 and the mother of three, sang in her church choir. nancy fox worked two jobs to try to get ahead. she was 25. maureen hedge, mother of four, was 53. vicky wegerle cared for children in her home, including her own two. she was 28. dolores davis, a grandmother and secretary retired at age 62, just months before she was murdered. ten innocent people murdered to satisfy the twisted needs of one selfish man. a man who for more than 30 years frustrated police, taunted the media, and terrorized the citizens of wichita, kansas. btk seemed uncatchable. everyone wondered who he was, where he was, when a most unlikely man who lived among them all along, dennis rader, was arrested. >> i am btk.
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and i'm the guy they're after, 100%. >> reporter: on this program, you'll see new information that offers insight into the deviant mind of dennis rader. >> if i had not gone into sexual fantasies, off the deep end, i never became what i was. >> he is just the most unique, unprecedented combination of perversion packaged to look like a human being that i've ever seen. >> you'll hear his excuses on why he said he had to kill. >> fantasies are what got me into trouble. i just went from one fantasy to bigger and bigger and bigger and pretty soon was involved in murder and that fueled the next one and it just went on and on. >> there's one dennis rader, a murderer, that's a coward. >> all told in an appallingly matter of fact manner. >> pulled up on it, that's when the monster took over totally.
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>> there's no monster in him. he is the monster himself. >> tonight an exclusive jailhouse interview with the man who named himself btk. for his propensity to bind, torture and kill his victims. we'll examine dennis rader's three decades long reign of terror and the exhaustive police investigation that finally caught him. we'll also get an inside look at a man with two lives. a husband, a father, a cub scout leader and church president living unassumingly in his community. but also a man who secretly hunted down and killed ten innocent people and then bragged about it in his insatiable search for attention. this interview, obtained by nbc news after it was completed was conducted by a harvard trained forensic psychologist, robert mendoza, who performs more than 100 evaluations for criminal and civil cases each year. he was hired by the defense team to assess rader's sanity.
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>> why don't you shut it down. i said i can't, i can't. >> this specific conversation took place just a couple of hours after rader had pleaded guilty to ten counts of murder in june. and put on what many people thought was a chilling performance in court. as you listen to what he says from behind bars, to see what light it may shed, keep in mind rader knew he was being taped and knew that it might be seen on national television. if you're looking for remorse from the btk killer, you won't find it here. >> i was embarrassed in front of the world. not totally. and, you know, it didn't bother me too bad. i could relax a little bit, had water to drink. i didn't feel too bad about it. >> dennis rader was a hometown boy, one of four sons raised in the wichita area by church-going lutheran parents. while rader appeared a clean-cut, high school senior in this 1963 yearbook, his writings
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speak of his already having bizarre sexual fantasies. he kept them hidden as he served his country in the air force. then married a girl from home in 1971. a couple of years later, rader could no longer keep those fantasies locked only in his mind. his obsession with sex and bondage evolved into deviant violent acts carried out on real people, and ultimately led to murder. >> i got this fantasy, i started working out this fantasy in my mind. once it became a fantasy, i could loop it over, lay in bed at night, thinking about the person, the events and how it's going to happen. it became like a picture show. i want to go ahead and produce it and direct it and go through with it, no matter what the costs were and the consequences. it was going to happen. one way or another. maybe not that day but it was going to happen. >> no one knows for sure why rader had to kill to fulfill those fantasies. but in this interview with the
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psychologist, rader says that he picked his first victims, members of the otero family, utterly at random in late 1973. he recently had been laid off from a job and says he was feeling down and out at the time. had begun trolling, as he put it, in certain neighborhoods. including along edgemore drive where the oteros lived. >> that neighborhood, i guess became a what i call a haunt. as i call it. i had special appeal to it. i had been there, knew the roads, the people. i drive by, watch cars. people pull out of their homes. people go. wrote telephone numbers down, wrote addresses down. this is how i started. right here. my haunts. that area, the edgemore area, that was my first big haunt. >> julie otero, her husband and their five children lived on edgemore then. it was just mrs. otero's terrible misfortune that she happened to catch dennis rader's eye when he was driving down her street.
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>> she came out of the house, took the kids to school. so i followed them to school. i thought, well, that's a corner house. that's a possibility. and i was in between work. idle hands, what is it? >> the devil's workshop? >> yes. all these things seemed to happen when i had idle hands. i just lost a job at cessna. that was demoralizing to me. so anyway, they became a potential target. >> they were convenient? >> convenient. >> how did they fuel the sexual fantasy? what was specific about them? >> she was attractive and i saw josephine, too. >> josephine was the otero's 11-year-old daughter. >> i must have had that somewhere in my mind that younger person, must have locked in to me. >> reporter: it would be nearly two months before rader acted on the sexual fantasy involving mrs. otero and her daughter. which he says began brewing in his brain. when he finally did, it would establish his pattern of
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brutality and deception toward all of his victims. rader broke into the home of the objects of his obsession in january 1974. he said he entered the home an anxious man. though he recounts the story with a strange lack of emotion. >> extremely nervous. then, i had cut the phone line, already cut the phone line. and it's funny, i left my cutters there. i had to come back and get them later. and the door opened. so here i am. you know. do i just walk out the back door and they call the police? or do i go for it? and i went for it. >> chilling details of his first killings and of his victim's final words. >> mrs. otero woke up, she said, god have mercy on your soul. >> when "confessions of btk" continues. ♪[music plays]
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msnbc reports returns to "confessions of btk." >> when dennis rader broke into the oteros' home, even though e for 80 years, we've been inspired by you. and we've been honored to walk with you to help you get where you want to be. ♪ because your moment is now. let nothing stand in your way. learn more at keller.edu.
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>> when dennis rader broke into the oteros' home, even though he was brandishing a gun, he says the family didn't take him too seriously at first. >> what happened once they saw you? >> they thought it was a joke. i went in. i think it was the younger otero. they were all in the kitchen -- they were making sandwiches. >> male or female? >> the younger. the junior. >> rader says to keep the family
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calm he made up a story about why he was there. >> mr. otero actually stepped up and told them i was coming for some food, i was wanted in california, i needed some food and water and some money and transportation. that was my ruse to kind of calm them down. he kind of laughed a little bit. is this a joke? who sent you? my brother-in-law? >> rader says the family bought his lie about being on the run from the law and not wanting to hurt them. and so at gunpoint, they acquiesced to his tying up all four of them, mother and father, and younger son and daughter, without a struggle. >> they were cooperating with me 100%. that probably was their demise. if they struggled, it probably would have been a different story. they felt fairly comfortable that is what i was going to do. >> as rader tells the story, like he does so often, he paints his own conduct in the best possible light. he says he took pains to make his victims feel even more
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comfortable by actually loosening some of the binds around their hands and feet. >> tried to comfort them as much as i could. >> to keep them quiet or because you were worried? >> both. i'm not a bad guy. i care for people. have concerns for people. and i hadn't really crossed that path yet where i was going to kill the people yet. i was in concern mode. >> what you're seeing here is a very early form of a future serial killer. who's still trying to decide what it is he's going to get out of these crimes. >> we asked james allen fox, one of the nation's leading criminologists and a professor at northeastern university, to give his analysis of this interview. he has studied serial killers for 25 years and has written numerous books. his most recent book, on serial killers including btk. >> he wants to fulfill his fantasy. but it's not necessary for them to feel excessive suffering.
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at this stage, he hadn't yet made a decision to kill. >> i had them controlled completely. then went into the other room and i thought, do i just leave or what? they already know my face. so i went back and put a plastic bag over mr. otero's head, put a gauntlet over his neck and pulled up on it and that's when the rope hit the fan. because they could all see what i was doing. >> rader describes first strangling the mother and father, while their 9-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter watched. although he is describing acts of unspeakable cruelty, his voice is utterly devoid of emotion, which makes listening to it that much harder. >> the kids were watching it? >> yes, they were watching it and screaming and hollering. >> did you want to move them from the scene involved? >> no. no. i had to get control. it was really noisy. they were screaming. >> the noise was bothering you. >> yeah, the noise was bothering me. i thought the mailman would be out there or somebody would be walking by so i had to control it very quickly.
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>> he said he found the noise annoying. >> only looks at the events from his own perspective. this is a script designed to please him. because remember, it was almost like these people weren't real. they were just actors, and they didn't matter. what mattered was his enjoyment. the kids screaming was taking away from his enjoying all of this stuff. how can he get aroused with the kids screaming? >> he completely dehumanizes the kids? >> yes. serial killers are very good at that. that makes it possible for them to kill. >> it was something i had to do. once i started with mr. otero i knew i had to do all four of them. it was like an execution. once you start it, if there's witnesses, you had to do it all the way around. >> for someone who seemed so callous, you might assume rader was always a coolly efficient killer. but the way he tells it, rader
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didn't have a clue how much force it took to end a life. so tried several times to strangle mrs. otero only to have her wake up again. during the woman's last, desperate struggle for consciousness, rader says she was fully aware he was snuffing out the lives of her husband, and two children. in what he says were her last words to him, mrs. otero's humanity shined against the killer's inhumanity. >> mrs. otero had woke up, and she actually said, have god -- god have mercy on your soul. that's what she said. and i put her down. permanently. >> this woman who probably knows now that she might be going to die, she is generous with you asking god to have mercy on your soul. >> mm-hmm, yeah. yeah.
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>> pretty generous thing to tell the man -- >> that's going to kill you. >> that killed and tortured your family, and is about to do the same to her. >> yeah. >> rader eventually took young josephine otero down to the basement of her home and hanged her from a pipe. the police found semen near josephine's body. >> and going forward, recollections of what he had done with these victims fueled his desire to do it again. >> rader says now the whole experience left him quaking. >> i was really on a, not on a sexual high, i was on a scared high. i was really nervous. sweat running off me all over the place. i had gloves on. i had rubber gloves on, full of water, sweat. my clothes were soaked with sweat, very nervous. not like a master criminal at
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all. this was my first time to ever cross that barrier. >> several hours later, charlie otero, then 15, and his sister carmen, then 13, came home from school. >> as i walked through the back door i noticed the kitchen was in disarray. things were on the floor. it didn't look right. and i yelled out, is anybody home? that's when i heard my sister cry out, charlie, come quick. i ran through the hallway down to the bedroom and i found carmen with my parents. my father was tied up, his eyes were bulging, his tongue was about bit off. my mother was on the bed. she didn't even look like my mother. i looked at my dad, i could smell the death and the fear in the room. >> charlie and carmen had not seen what had happened to their younger brother and sister when they were taken to the police station. they say they told police to make sure joseph jr. and josephine did not enter the home. >> so i was telling the police
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the whole time, go to josie and joey's school and keep them from coming home. i do not want them to come home and find the house the way it is, with police everywhere. >> we were afraid of what they would see. we were at the police department for quite awhile. we kept asking them, did you get a hold of the little ones? finally they told us you don't have to worry about that, they were killed also. >> when they told me about josie and joey, i just died inside. after that day, i lost my religion instantly. the minute i saw my mother, i said, there cannot be a god. not only can there not be a god, but i hate him if he is a god, if there is one. >> a despair not difficult to understand from a man whose mother, father, sister and brother were slaughtered in their own home. horribly, and inexplicably. while the oteros were the first, they would not be the last people to fall victim to dennis rader's hellish world.
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more bodies, more suffering loved ones, more questions about who he was, why he was doing this. >> probing deeper into a dark mind. >> i don't think it was actually the person i was after, i think it was the dream. it was an object. that's all they were. >> a cat and mouse game with the police begins. when confessions of btk continues. you know. it's different. first, it's been re-engineered with micro-particles. second, it enters the bloodstream fast, and rushes relief to the site of your tough pain. the best part? it's proven to relieve pain twice as fast as before. bayer advanced aspirin. test how fast it works for you. love it, or get your money back. c'mon, michael! get in the game! [ male announcer ] don't have the hops for hoops with your buddies?
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here's what's happening, joe paterno has given his first interview since being removed from his position in the wake of the jerry sandusky sexual assault scandal. when asked why he didn't act more aggressively in 2002 paterno tells "the washington post" i didn't know how to handle it and i was afraid to do something to jeopardize the university procedure. he turned it over to people he thought had more expertise. the captain of a cruise ship has been arrested after a crash that filled three people and 40 people are missing. investigators are trying to term what caused that ship to run aground. a boost for rick santorum a week before the palmetto state primary. 150 conservative leaders announced they will back rick santorum. now back to confessions of btk.
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blood pressure we continue with "confessions of btk." here's ann curry. >> when wichita police learned that two children and their parents had been murdered, they, of course, looked at the likeliest suspects, people who knew the family. police, however, were about to learn that they were dealing with a serial killer. a man who three decades later would offer details about his crimes and his callousness in tapes never broadcast before. again, edie magnus. >> after murdering four members of the otero family, dennis rader spent the next several years killing again and again and again. his next three victims were all young women. in this interview with a psychologist, rader dismisses each victim as a project. he says he begins by stalking them. >> the stalking stage is when you start learning more about your victims, potential victims. i went to the library, looked up their names, address, cross referenced, called them a couple of times, drove by there whenever i could.
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>> and each time he struck, rader said he was armed with what he called his hip kit. >> contained what? >> plastic bags, rope, tape, knife, gun, all those would be a kit where i could have them in the house and gather them up. >> tools that would come to define the work of btk. victims were often discovered bound with tape tied in unusual knots. >> you have to have the bonding which is control which is a big thing with me. my sexual fantasy is if i'm going to kill a victim or do something to a victim is have them bound and tied. now, similar along the line, in my dreams i could have what they call torture chambers and to relieve your sexual fantasies, you have to go to the kill. >> three months after the otero murders, in april of 1974, rader's next victim was kathy bright, a 21-year-old college student.
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once again, he selected her randomly while driving down her street as he told the court in june. >> i saw her go into the house, with somebody else. i thought that's a possibility. >> rader's plan was to lie in wait and overtake kathy when she came home. but the plan went awry when she unexpectedly showed up with her brother kevin. rader said in court he was able to get brother and sister tied up, but the knots that bound kevin were not holding. >> were you armed with a handgun? >> yes. i had a handgun. i actually had two handguns. well, i started strangling, either the bond broke or he broke his bonds and broke up and i pulled my gun and shot him, hit him in the head, he fell over. i could see the blood. >> rader said he thought kevin was dead and turned to strangle kathy when he heard kevin move. the two men struggled again and rader shot him for a second time in the head. he then continued trying to
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strangle kathy, but was unsuccessful, and so stabbed her multiple times in the chest. meanwhile much to rader's surprise, kevin had somehow managed to escape though his head wounds from the gunshot left him unable to clearly describe the killer to police. >> i thought the police were coming at that time. i heard the door open. i thought, that's it. i stepped out there and i could see him running down the street. so i quickly cleaned up everything that i could and left. >> six months later, in october 1974, rader announced himself to authorities, in the first of many letters he sent to newspapers and other media outlets, communiques that would come to include poems, and puzzles. it began a campaign that would reveal his other motive to kill, publicity. a twisted desire for celebrity. a sick obsession that rader, like some other serial killers, had to be known, and feared. to get credit for all his handiwork. it was rader who came up with btk as a name for himself. >> i just put it in one of the
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first letters. i was surprised i put it out there. i think it was just, bind, torture, kill, and then i had a label on me. like the green river killer, son of sam, a whole slew of others. the boston strangler. >> the police now knew the murders of the otero family and kathy bright were linked. but they had a serial killer in their midst. for tactical reasons, it would be several years before they disclosed the information to the public. still, they wanted to communicate with the mysterious strangler. police quietly placed a classified ad in the big hometown daily, btk, help is available. there was no response. and rader did not kill again for three years. >> it wasn't something i could do all the time. whenever it was convenient. it would have been easier, probably, if you were like a spy or somewhere where you could go sit there and watch. but i didn't have that. i had to work under camouflage. >> then in march 1977, rader
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struck again. his victim, shirley vian, 24 years old. he said in court he watched her young son walk into the house and spontaneously chose that family to victimize. >> i forced myself in, just opened the door and walked in and pulled a pistol. >> shirley vian was home with her three small children who rader corralled into the bathroom. >> the kids were really banging on the door, hollering, screaming. >> it's horrifying to remember that rader himself was a young father at this time. his own son was not yet 2. with the sounds of the vian children in the background, he said he simply worked as fast as he could. >> comforted her a little bit, tied her up, put a bag over her head and strangled her. >> in other admission that reveals rader's depravity, he told the psychologist the thrill had little to do with the kill, or for that matter with the victim herself. >> i don't think it was actually the person i was after, i think it was the dream.
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i know that's not really nice to say about a person, but they were basically an object. just an object. that's how i worked. i had more satisfaction building up to it and afterwards than i did actually killing the person. >> many serial killers objectify their victim. they dehumanize them. they're tools, they're instruments for their own pleasure. >> how does someone who is a married, young father objectify people and kill them? >> the process is called compartmentalization. many people are able to divide the world into those they care about and love truly, and everyone else is expendable. >> he says that he had more satisfaction, anticipating his kills, and in the aftermath of killing, than he did in the actual killing. >> that's his fantasy. the planning process, the stalking, the hunting, is very enjoyable to him.
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and the aftermath, once he's killed, to see that he -- to see what he's done. that's fulfilling, too. that's what he would literally climax. >> the sexual fantasies, the obsession with bondage, rader claims it's been swirling in his head since he was a child. he remembers being aroused as a young child when his mother would spank him. rader has written in letters, which no one is sure are true, that he secretly perused s&m magazines as a boy, stole panties, peeked in windows. he writes of hanging a cat, and then a dog. how does sexual fantasy, and even an obsession with bondage, lead to murder? >> it doesn't necessarily. what makes serial killers different than other people who might fantasize about power, dominance, control, is that they do not have a legitimate way to satisfy their need for power. so they take, they grab that power in the most violent way. >> at the end of 1977 in
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december, dennis rader killed his seventh victim, nancy fox. >> broke in and waited for her to come home in the kitchen. >> this time rader's plans went smoothly as the single working girl, who was just 25, came home alone. >> i confronted her, told her that i had a problem, a sexual problem, that i would have to tie her up and have sex with her. >> rader said he handcuffed and tied nancy fox, strangled her with a belt, left his telltale semen by the body and got out without a hitch. then he called the police. rader actually had the audacity to phone 911 and alert authorities to his own crime. >> you will find a homicide. at 843 south pershing, nancy fox. >> i'm sorry, sir. i can't understand you. what is the address? >> 843 south pershing. >> that is correct. >> in the jailhouse interview, rader said in hindsight he thinks that call was dumb.
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>> that was kind of an impulse, really a stupid thing to do. because i left my voice pattern, and my voice on there. >> and still, rader was not done communicating. the following month he sent a poem, written with a child's printing set on an index card to "the wichita eagle newspaper." the poem, patterned after a nursery rhyme, referred to shirley vian's murder. several days later he sent another letter, the most disturbing one yet. the one that finally put the killer on the news, and put the community in a tailspin. >> what kind of leads do you have? >> we have absolutely nothing that will point us to any one particular individual. >> a killer now in the spotlight he craves. >> he absolutely terrorized the community. everyone is a suspect. >> the fear was palpable. ix wor. it's a medication i could take and still smoke, while it built up in my system.
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>> when i sat in my office and read his account of what he had done, i wasn't ready for it. >> it was february 1978, and then tv news director ron loewen was reading with disgust and revulsion a letter that had arrived in his newsroom at kake-tv. >> there was no doubt in my mind it was from btk. >> in a two page, single-spaced letter, rader, using the name btk, again announced himself as a serial killer and then went
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even further in his bid for publicity, comparing himself to son of sam in new york, jack the ripper in london, and the hillside strangler in los angeles, claiming they were all driven to kill by what he called factor "x." it seems senseless but we cannot help it, he wrote. there is no help, no cure except death or being caught and put away. >> he was making it clear that he wanted to be elevated to be serial killer hall of fame. this is the league that he said he should be in. he listed 15 to 17 additional serial killers, infamous serial killers. >> through the ages? >> through the ages. btk is a student, was the first thing that flashed through my mind, of serial murders. >> along with a lurid description of the otero killings, loewen says the killer was literally begging for ink. a little paragraph in the newspaper would have been enough. how many people do i have to
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kill until i get the recognition i deserve? >> i always thought he had the misfortune, given his aspirations, to live in a small media market. he never got the attention, because he lived in wichita. if he'd done any of this in los angeles, it would have been a different story. >> even more chilling, btk threatened he was bearing down on murder victim number eight. >> he said he was stalking the victim right now. he picked his next victim. he indicated how he was going to kill that person. and then the last sentence was, maybe it's you. >> he was trying to frighten people? >> oh, definitely. and he succeeded. >> it turned out the wichita police had been intentionally denying btk publicity for some time. profilers had warned them against caving in to the killer's demands for attention, on the grounds that if he got it, he'd kill again. but that tactic clearly hadn't worked. btk kept on killing anyway. now, faced with the strangler's written threat to take yet
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another life the police abruptly changed strategy. >> at that point we need to step up and say, yes, we recognize you as btk, and we do have a serial killer here. >> so police chief lamunyon and news director ron loewen appeared on tv that february 1978, side by side. >> btk claims to have strangled a total of seven women. >> it was loewen himself who broke the story of btk to the community. during that newscast, loewen, who never talked publicly about these events before discussing them with us, became, in effect, live bait. >> the police said, based on the talk with the behavioral people, this is a cry for help. this guy has more that he wants to say. we suggest that you do the story so that it has someone that he might choose to communicate with again. >> how did you feel about
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offering yourself up as someone who would be willing to communicate with this deranged mass murderer? >> well, you know, you want to help. if he wanted to write letters, and they came to my attention, why not? >> it was quite a risk. btk had already murdered seven people. and loewen could end up getting far more than just a letter in the mail. but there he sat -- >> what kind of leads do you have? >> asking questions of chief lamunyon for which there were no good answers. >> very honestly we have no solid leads at all. >> it was horrific news. it changed for me and everything changed for everyone in wichita. >> he says the effect of the bombshell announcement on this gentle, family-oriented city, was instantaneous. >> he absolutely terrorized the community. everyone was a suspect. girlfriends were concerned about their boyfriends. there were parents who turned in their children. the fear was palpable. >> hoping btk would contact him
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the police brought loewen inside the investigation. loewen was provided a photo of a possible suspect. and a police revolver. >> that gun freaked me out. it was the tangible reminder that there was a killer out there and that at some level the police thought he might be coming to see me. >> just what was it that drove dennis rader to bind, torture and kill so many innocent people? >> factor "x" is probably -- >> in his jailhouse interview, rader blamed his murder spree on that mysterious force he has always claimed was way beyond his control, factor "x." >> something that i used it, i actually think of maybe possessed with demons, i was dropped on my head when i was a kid. talked to some theological christian people and some of the people are really strong. they actually think, well, the bible says that there's demons within you, and got into you.
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that's the only thing i can figure out. i haven't, you know -- something drove me to do this. normal people don't do it. >> you can't stop it? >> i can't stop it. it's just -- it controls me. you know, it's like it's in the driver's seat. that's probably the reason we're sitting here. if i could say i don't want to do this and go crawl in a hole. but it's driving me. >> you've actually used the term monster. there's this monster inside of you. it almost sounds like something separate and apart, like a different person. >> it's part of the compartment. i can switch back and forth. and once the character takes over, whatever it is it drives me onward. i don't know what it is. >> but criminologist james allen fox says he knows what it is. it's bunk. >> don't blame me, i'm really a good guy. factor "x" i just couldn't resist. it's the monster inside of me.
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to use a technical term, it's poppycock. it's just an excuse. it was dennis rader making the decisions, not factor "x." >> he speculates at one point that he was dropped on his head. >> yeah. >> that might have done something. >> everybody could believe that, too. it's someone else's fault. there are lots of kids that fall off tricycles and fall out of cribs and they bang their heads and they don't have factor "x" or go on killing sprees. it's a way to deflect blame. dennis rader is someone who is selfish, narcissistic, committed to his own pleasures. committed to fulfilling his sexual fantasies, no matter who he hurts in the process. >> in 1978, of course, nobody new what rader's excuses were. all they knew was that btk was out there, a seven-time murderer who was promising in his factor "x" manifesto that he was about to take another innocent life.
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the investigation went into high gear. unprecedented. and yet unsuccessful for many years. even though he was right under their noses. >> desperate police devise an unusual plan, a secret message to btk. >> you were hoping that perhaps your killer might see it? >> yes. >> did you get any phone calls? >> when confessions of btk continues. so you earn 50% more cash. according to research, everybody likes more cash. well, almost everybody... ♪ would you like 50% more cash? no! but it's more money. [ male announcer ] the new capital one cash rewards card. the card for people who want 50% more cash. what's in your wallet? woah! [ giggles ] [ male announcer ] that onion after taste after you again? new crest complete with scope dual blast technology
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we return to "confessions of btk." >> btk was waiting, waiting, waiting. >> it was 1979, and ron lowen was studying another package from the mysterious serial killer at large in wichita. this one, which arrived in his tv newsroom more than a year after btk had last been heard from, was announcing not another murder, but a failed attempt. >> he had broken the glass. he was in the basement waiting.
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>> the intended victim, a 63-year-old woman rader had been stalking unexpectedly spent the night out, which saved her life. but rader made sure everybody knew he was still primed to commit murder, sending the media that package containing some personal items he'd stolen from her home, and including one of his trademark poems. >> which was a poem of death. he said that he was disappointed that she didn't come home. that he intended to kill her. >> rader now claims in this interview with a psychologist that this woman wasn't the only one that got away. >> is it safe to say that there are at least a few lucky people out there? >> there's a lot of lucky people out there. >> who you didn't kill? >> i didn't make it into the house, they didn't come home or for some reason i didn't go. there's a lot of lucky people out there, yes. there would have been more, probably, if i would have succeeded. yeah. i can almost guarantee it. >> after that failed murder attempt, wichita's most famous
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and sought-after strangler seemed to disappear from the scene. after five years and seven bodies, he stopped communicating in 1979. the police simply couldn't find him, despite a manhunt, unprecedented in scope that went on for years. >> we spent a lot of money on this case and no one complained. not one bit. >> we first met the wichita police chief richard lamunyon last year before dennis rader was arrested. he talked quite candidly about the failure to catch btk on his watch. >> i think the community was probably as frustrated as i was. i don't think they were mad. i think they had the same feeling i had, hey, they're doing everything they possibly do to catch this guy. >> lamunyon says they tried everything, from old-fashioned detective work to some ideas that sound downright nutty. >> we were trying to get this guy to communicate. >> but did you feel at the time like, i don't care how wacky it sounds, let's try it?
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>> anything short of psychics. i wasn't into psychics. >> but he was into trying a technique that, as far as we know, has never been attempted by law enforcement before or since. the police once arranged to have a subliminal message, one devised by profilers, inserted into a local evening newscast at kake-tv. to viewers, the subliminal message looked like this. just a flash of light. but slow it down, and there it was. "now, call the chief." >> and you were hoping that perhaps your killer might see it. >> yes. >> did you get any phone calls? did anybody's subconscious get tapped at all? >> no, we didn't get anything out of it. >> wherever he was, the killer could not or would not be reached. even when the police got a break and were able to track down a letter btk sent from a photocopier at wichita state university, they still couldn't catch him. turns out, rader was a student there studying criminal justice. >> we tracked the communication that he sent us to that copy
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machine that was at the activity center. and we had detectives go back to xerox company, and they confirmed that's where it came from. but he was on a list with several thousand others. if you were a white male between 18 and 35, you were on that list. but we couldn't match him to any other list. >> you will find a homicide at 843 south pershing. >> and they had the killer's voice on tape, of course, from that time he boldly called 911 to tell them he'd murdered nancy fox. in time, the police were able to have the technical quality of that taped call enhanced. and it was played repeatedly on radio and tv. >> he said it was probably stupid, but he liked it. he liked the fact that it's been played over and over and over for years and years. >> yet even with all that exposure, nobody recognized the voice as that of a man named dennis rader. another dead end. >> i think i was lucky. i think i was lucky quite a bit. pretty lucky guy. pretty lucky guy.
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i think they got close a couple times, and i was just lucky. >> incredibly so, for a killer who may well have been seen several times. a handful of eyewitnesses helped police make sketches of how they remembered the suspect. but the drawings weren't especially helpful because nobody could quite agree on what btk looked like. as dna matching evolved during the 1980s, police tried to use that to catch him in the 1980s. more than 200 samples were taken from men living near the victims who fit btk's profile and compared to the semen they'd preserved from several of the crime scenes. nobody matched. you had dna evidence? >> yes. >> you had his voice on tape? >> yes. >> and you just couldn't get him? >> couldn't get him. >> you had the best behavioral science minds in the country helping you develop a profile of who he was, and what he might do, and you couldn't ever anticipate him? >> could never anticipate him. >> still, lamunyon said now that
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while they didn't know anything about dennis rader, they knew a lot about btk. >> after he went dormant and stopped killing the theory was, and everyone was saying, well, he's in prison or maybe he has an illness or something happened. i never -- i never bought that. i was convinced that he was one of us. we had him pegged, in terms of the type of individual we were looking for. we had everything but a name. >> in the jailhouse interview with the psychologist, which we showed former chief lamunyon, dennis rader was openly scornful of local law enforcement. >> the police are the keystone cops. >> and disdainful of all their years of efforts. >> they traced a lot of things down. traced the copier down, the copier i used at wsu, but they couldn't make the connection from there. they had 30-some years to break it and they couldn't do it. the taxpayers were paying the money. they really need to have a sharper bunch. although they tried and tried and tried and tried. >> were you offended when you heard him say the wichita cops
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couldn't close this case? >> i'm not offended by anything he says. at all. it's all about him. i know that the police officers did everything in their power. i know that they finally caught him. >> with everything you know about him now, do you think that you should have been able to get him? >> i would like to tell you, yes. i really don't think we could have done any more than we did. >> he called the wichita police the keystone cops. >> i heard that. again, that's just dennis rader, because what he was saying is, to allow the wichita police to catch him, you know, would be demeaning to him. and it just bugs him. it just drives him crazy. so, therefore, he has to belittle the police department in order to elevate himself. >> the conventional wisdom was that somehow he was so smart, because he always stayed one step ahead of the police. >> i don't think he's smart at all. we're not talking about a genius here. you know? we're not talking about a hannibal lecter-type individual.
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i think he was just more lucky than anything. in terms of what he did. because he did it in such random fashion, and because there was no connection between them, and because he did it alone, and it was so sporadic, and it was over such a long period of time. >> and probably most important, lamunyon says is that rader apparently told absolutely no one about what he had done. >> i don't think he joked about it. i don't think he said, oh, i could be a strangler type thing. i don't think so. >> year after year went by, and the once hot btk investigation eventually became a cold case. by the mid-'80s, the elite police unit created to hunt down the killer closed up shop. once the city's public enemy number one, btk became part of wichita legend. and what was dennis rader doing all those years? hiding in plain sight. >> those who knew the killer best. were there hints of his secret life? >> wouldn't those closest to dennis rader, his wife, his
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[ male announcer ] sustainable solutions. fedex. solutions that matter. "confessions of btk" continues on msnbc reports. here again is stone phillips. >> he spent years stalking and killing innocent people. then dennis rader, known only as btk, seemed to stop. he gradually disappeared from the headlines he craved. and that is something he now says he could not tolerate. here again, edie magnus.
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>> after btk disappeared in 1979, police would spend 25 more years in a frustrating search to try to capture him. did you ever look around? >> oh, always. >> btk, ron loewen knew, could be anyone, anywhere. listen to what the former wichita news director told us about the killer a year before btk was caught. >> i think this guy is probably a lot more normal than anybody thinks. he told us it was easy. after he killed someone, he just assumed his rightful place in the world. he's a person who has been walking in that community. he's really the stranger beside you. >> today, that all sounds positively prophetic. because that's just what dennis rader was doing all those years, hiding in plain sight, raising his children, going to church, getting a degree in his spare time. attending kansas state university home football games.
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in fact loewen, who took a look at rader's interview with the psychologist, says the serial killer is even more ordinary than he imagined. >> his family is so wonderfully kansas. his daughter was a high school golf champion. his son is, i think, in the navy. his wife sings in a church choir, has a job in a convenience store. they're average people making a simple good life together. boy, you would never pick him out of a crowd. i thought there would be something that would be more evident, but he was just as beige as beige could be. >> mike fitch knew rader when they were both employees at adt, where rader worked for nearly 15 years installing home security systems. he remembers rader as a stickler for perfection. making his customers happy was rader's top priority, even if he could be cranky and critical of others.
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>> i definitely didn't want to get on his wrong side. i was intimidated by him when i first started working. >> but fitch says he saw no hint of rader's violent side. >> we'd sit around and have popcorn before going home. >> what could be more american than being active in his young son's boy scouts? >> i signed dennis up as a cub scout leader. >> bob monroe says dennis rader always set a good example for the boys in his troop, and for rader's own son who went on to be an eagle scout. >> he took part in everything we did in scouting with his son, which is very important in cub scouting, as you do work with your boys. so, i considered him to be a very good parent and a very good scout leader at that time, of course. >> contrary to the common assumption that serial killers are generally loners or social outcasts, criminologist james fox says they can often seem to be one of us. >> many serial killers have
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families, children and friends, and no one suspects them, because they have this ordinary, normal-appearing life, and what people don't know about them is the darker side, the hidden side. >> so you can be someone who binds, tortures and kills one minute and has a seemingly normal life the next? >> absolutely. we've seen it time and time again. >> john wayne gacy of chicago, who murdered 33 young men, appeared normal enough. he was once named jc's man of the year. ted bundy, considered charming, was a law student who socialized in political circles until he was caught. he killed at least 33 women in five different states. on the other hand, new york's david berkowitz, a/k/a son of sam, who shot six, was a loner.
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and so, too, was jeffrey dahmer of milwaukee who dissected dead animals as a child, then later murdered and dismembered 17 young men and boys. but why would anyone ever suspect a man like dennis rader? consider his substantial involvement with his local lutheran church. paul has known rader through the church for 30 years and says he was an exemplary member. >> he will be an usher. he will run the sound systems. he'll count the money after the service. if something needs to be done, dennis was always available to help. >> as hard as this may be to believe, the serial killer told the psychologist in his interview that he considers himself a religious person. >> do you pray? >> yes, i do. i study the bible daily. that helps. not only for -- not only just for spiritual, but a lot of it is good meanings, good concepts, things that you can use in life. >> serial killers can believe in god. this is not inconsistent with the kind of person who can
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fulfill his sexual fantasies, who feels he has the right to do it with people whom he dehumanizes, objects, things. >> and dr. fox sees special significance in rader taking over as the president of his church congregation just weeks before he was caught. >> being in charge, being in control, power, importance, is a theme in his life. that's why he pursued this role in the church. >> in 1991, rader had found a day job that could give him control and power, too. he was made a compliance officer. rader was now, ironically, in charge of making certain others follow the letter of the law in park city, just north of wichita. his duties included making sure homeowners complied with various local ordinances, like keeping their grass cut, their yards free of junked cars or their dogs from running wild. >> we've been tracking down the dogs. they're somewhat territorial as well as vicious.
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>> that's him being interviewed by a local tv station, the killer himself right there on the screen for all wichita to see. who would ever suspect this public servant was actually the monster btk, whom everyone feared? but it was in that job that at least some people saw a darker side to dennis rader. dee stewart, a longtime acquaintance of rader's, has a good friend who reported to him in the compliance department. this friend, she says, found him controlling, and belligerent. >> there were times when he yelled at her in front of other employees. he demeaned her. he told her she would never be as smart as he was. >> but she says he could turn his good and bad sides on and off. >> he could be berating her, he could be screaming at her. and if the phone rang and it was a member of his family, he turned into ward cleaver. >> dr. fox says this apparent jekyll and hyde personality is classic for many serial killers. >> i don't believe there are two raders in one body. it's just that we all have a
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range in our personality. and someone like dennis rader indeed has two different shades, sides to his personality. and he hides from the people in his life, the dark, negative, brutal. >> wouldn't those closest to dennis rader, his wife, his children, have had to know something? >> nope. we'd like to believe that. we think it's incomprehensible that those closest wouldn't know. john wayne gacy was burying bodies in the crawl spaces of his home while he lived in that house with his wife. and there was a horrible odor coming from the crawlspace and she'd ask him about it. "what's that odor?" and he would say it was sewer gases and he would take care of it. and she believed him. dennis rader's wife would never suspect. he gave no signs. >> they'd find out eventually.
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because it seems dennis rader couldn't stand staying hidden forever. >> if i could just show them pictures and puzzles and playing a game with them. i didn't even have to go out and kill anybody this time. >> after years of silence, btk emerges from the shadows. more clues for police. more heartbreak for victims' families. >> mom's house had been broken into. we didn't know what happened to her. that is a trip to hell. when "confessions of btk" continues. ouncer ] to the 5:00 a.m. scholar. the two trains and a bus rider. the "i'll sleep when it's done" academic. for 80 years, we've been inspired by you. and we've been honored to walk with you to help you get where you want to be. ♪ because your moment is now. let nothing stand in your way. learn more at keller.edu.
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we now return to "confessions of btk." >> january 2004, in wichita,
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kansas. dennis rader was 58, still living in the house on independence street, still a compliance officer for park city, still an active member of the christ lutheran church. he'd been married 32 years. his son and daughter were all grown up now. and the other dennis rader? the brutal strangler who had so far gotten away with all those murders all that time and he hadn't been heard from in 25 years? >> btk was retiring. he was going to go off the face of the earth. >> or so he says. soon enough, an excuse to grab the limelight would come again. the newspaper ran an article about the mysterious serial killer, known only by the name he'd given himself, btk, for bind, torture and kill, and who had committed his first murder 30 years earlier. of course, it was all so long ago. rader found his exploits weren't even front page news anymore. he says it all made him feel a little itchy.
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>> that really stirred it. i read that in the paper, and i thought, i always thought you know, i'd like to break that back out again, but should i? i reached a point in life, the kids were gone, you know, not really bored but kind of bored. >> and something else. rader knew a local lawyer was writing a book about him, or about btk, that is. that didn't sit too well, either, with the man who had such an enormous appetite to draw attention to himself. rader felt only he could do justice to his story. >> eventually, i was going to tell the story in my terms and not his terms. they already had the killings. so that's factual. they didn't know how i worked and moved around, the projects, the haunts. how i picked my victims. they didn't know how that worked. i could just really stir the hornet's nest up with the media by just showing them pictures of puzzles and playing a game with them. >> so, in march 2004, rader made contact.
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not just signaling that he was still around, but far more ominously. sending what appeared to be proof of yet another murder, another young woman whose death had never been conclusively linked to btk. the innocuous-looking piece of mail landed on wichita eagle reporter's desk. >> copy of the letter. took the letter straight to the police department. >> did you read it? >> there's nothing to read. there are no words on it. i thought it was crime scene photographs that some crackpot had gotten ahold of them on the internet or something. the pictures appear to be pictures of a dead woman. >> her body had been posed several different ways. these were clearly not police photos. and there was something else, a photocopy of a driver's license. >> vicky wegerle's driver's license. and i immediately knew this probably came from vicky wegerle's killer. >> in september 1986, vicky wegerle, a young mother, was found tied up and strangled in her home. and a trophy had been taken, in
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this case, her driver's license. so police had naturally suspected btk. but there were differences, too, especially that the killer had never publicly boasted about it afterward, as was his pattern. now, all these years later, in addition to the copies of the photos and the driver's license, there was the envelope they came in. >> the return address said bill thomas killman, btk. and that's when we realized it may be the real deal. >> tell me about that moment. >> it was just total disbelief that he was still here. >> he agreed to give the police two days to nail it down, and then broke the story. the ghost was back. police could now say that more than 17 years earlier, vicki wegerle had, indeed, been btk's eighth known victim. >> so by resurfacing in 2004, and sending a letter with a photograph and driver's license of the victim, say, "i'm still here.
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you never caught me. and i've been here all along." >> his need for attention is apparently unquenched. i absolutely thought that this was the tip of the iceberg. >> former wichita tv news director ron loewen made that prediction to us almost a year before dennis rader was caught. and sadly, when it was over, he would be proven right. there had been two more murders never before connected to btk that brought the total number of his victims to ten. in 2004, rader was still hiding evidence about his murder of maureen hedge. she lived on his block, and they knew each other. in court, rader described how after bowling one evening in 1985, he broke into her house and waited for her to come home. >> she screamed. i jumped on the bed and strangled her manually. >> rather than leaving her body in her home, rader changed his m.o., confusing police at the time. >> killed her in her house, put her in the trunk of her car,
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took her to his church, put her on a blanket, tied her up in different bonding situations, took pictures of her, and put her back in the trunk and took her out and dumped her. it was the middle of the night. he had a key because he was one of the leaders of the church. >> maureen hedge's body was later found buried under some leaves and branches in this ditch, several miles from her home. and even as his persona, btk, re-emerged in 2004, rader was also hiding evidence about his last victim, dolores davis, whom he killed in 1991. >> he had seen her out in the yard working and had sexual feelings. >> her son jeff talked to us recently, after viewing rader's interview with the psychologist. >> she was a very kind, considerate, empathetic, gentle person.
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given the circumstances of her death, i think she kept her class and her dignity and poise right up until the end. >> all right. so you used a concrete block to break the window? >> in court, rader said he used a concrete block as a battering ram to crash through dolores davis' sliding glass door and enter her home. >> removed her handcuffs and tied her up, eventually strangled her. >> rader then took her body from the house. authorities knew only that she was missing. >> probably kidnapped at best, dead at worst. so that kind of started the clock on a 13-day seemingly 13th century time frame where we didn't know what happened to her. and that is -- that is a trip to hell. >> 13 days later, his mother's body was found under a bridge. but of course, police didn't know then who had done it.
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jeff davis says he slipped into despair and depression that destroyed his marriage, and worse. >> i would go to bed every night for the better part of five years, and i prayed to god that he'd let me die. >> dolores davis' driver's license and social security card had gone missing. that was certainly the kind of thing btk did to his murder victims. but there were many other aspects of this crime that strayed from his usual m.o. so, until rader was caught and the police announced dolores davis as the tenth victim, her son was left to wonder. >> i guess there was the remote possibility that there was some phantom serial out there, but honestly, i never connected it with btk. >> how dennis rader led police straight to his door. >> he said, "we've got him." >> confessions of btk continues in a moment. ♪
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here's what's happening. former penn state coach joe paterno has given his first interview since being dismissed. he said he didn't know how to handle the situation and turned it over to people he thought had more expertise. the captain of a luxury cruise ship has been arrested after the crash outside italy. 40 people are missing. the event is under investigation. the man who shot and killed three co--workers at a north carolina lumber company died in a hospital this morning. the employee went home and shot himself in the head after the shooting rampage. standard & poor's is defending its decision to downgrade nine european companies. now back to confessions of btk. msnbc reports continues with "confessions of btk."
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>> would he kill again? that was the question consuming much of wichita, kansas, in the weeks after serial killer btk announced himself in 2004, following years of silence. >> i definitely lock my doors at night until i find out more. >> here in the heartland, fear of the unknown monster among them penetrated yet a new generation. >> my mom is going to watch out for my sister more. >> people were learning karate, buying guns, beefing up security systems and looking at strangers with a suspicion not felt in years. in his jailhouse interview, rader now claims he didn't know he was having this effect. >> i didn't realize the city really lived in fear that bad. i saw spurts of it on the news. people came home, looked under doors, under the beds and just really lived in fear. i didn't realize i had that potential. >> i dropped my jaw and i had a pad of paper and i made a note and i just scrawled, "liar."
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once again, even with the learned psychologist there, he's playing a game. >> at the very least, says criminologist james fox, rader is being completely disingenuous. he says for the serial killer, the fear is all part of the twisted fun. >> part of the enjoyment that serial killers have is not just manipulating the victims, and tying them up, but manipulating a community, and tying them up in a grip of terror. >> what's now known is that rader hadn't taken a life since 1991. his explanation to the psychologist about why he stopped at ten victims is once again chillingly matter of fact. >> i aren't there more victims? >> why aren't there more? it seemed like as i got older, i started making -- well, physically, i just wasn't up to it. somebody would have to be an older person. i just wouldn't be able to fight physically.
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i don't know. i think i was just starting to mellow out a little bit. >> fox believes it's not probably not coincidence that rader stopped committing murder around the time he got that job as a compliance officer. >> now he really had some power. now he could really push people around. so, he didn't have to do it with physical violence. he could do it through his job. >> the killer still lusted for notoriety, however. so after first revealing himself in that letter to "the wichita eagle," he sent a slew of letters and packages throughout 2004 and into early 2005, to local tv stations, to police. even leaving clues in a public park, a doll with dark hair, her face colored with makeup. her arms bound behind her by a pair of pantyhose. her head contained in a plastic bag. and next to the doll was a copy of the driver's license of one of btk's victims, nancy fox. a handmade word puzzle, which investigators now see contains a group of letters spelling d.
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rader and the numbers of his address. it all put wichita's serial strangler front and center again, just how he liked it. >> was that exciting to you? was that sexually exciting to you? >> probably the media. not sexual. not the media attention. i listened to the news. yeah, i get pretty excited, i read the paper. >> did you ever think you were going to get caught? >> no, no, no. this guy was not going to get caught. >> you wanted to get caught? >> no, i didn't want to get caught. >> okay. >> i wanted to put everything on floppies, the cd was going to a safe deposit or a hidey hole and i could always bring it back out. >> many have speculated that rader's repeated messages were indeed a cry to be captured. but james fox says it's just the opposite. >> he felt invincible, unstoppable. that's why many serial killers do communicate with the police. not because they want to invite capture. because they feel that the police are no match for their
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skill, their cunning, their stardom, their brilliance. so what often happens amongst serial killers is they get so cocky and they make a mistake. >> and that's just what happened. it was rader himself who helped bring police to his door. it started in january 2005, when rader placed a letter in a pickup truck at this home depot, which eventually made its way to police. in it rader, identifying himself only as btk, asked the police whether they could catch him if he used a computer disk to communicate. he asked the police to respond in a classified ad, and he asked them to, "be honest." >> he actually asked the police -- >> they said no. >> did you really think they were going to tell you the truth? >> no. i thought they would. i thought they wanted me to finish the story. i really thought i had a rapport with them. i really did. >> doesn't that seem kind of
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dumb? >> yeah, it does. >> to believe that the police would tell you the truth about something like that? >> he's been playing games for 0 years with us. 30 years with us. you think we're going to shoot straight with you? i don't think so. >> so, naturally, the police lied and told the killer they couldn't trace a disk to him and waited to see if he would fall for it, which he did. rader's last communication was a computer disk filled with more taunts and puzzles. he sent it to a local television station. the police were able to trace it to a dennis and a computer at rader's church. by googling the church name and dennis, the police quickly zeroed in on dennis rader. what nailed him ultimately was the last floppy disk. >> what nailed him was his hubris. he went too far. >> police also used a surveillance tape from that home depot to figure out that the person who dropped off the btk letter was driving a car registered to dennis rader's son.
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but to make certain they had their man, they needed a dna match. so, authorities got a warrant for a tissue sample from rader's daughter, on file at a kansas medical clinic. tests showed it was a close match to the evidence drawn from the crime scenes. it was now early in the week of february 21st, 2005. and former police chief richard lamunyon remembers quite well when he got the news he'd waited more than 30 years to hear. >> simply said, we've got him. he said it's just a matter of time. we've got him. >> locked up and choked up. >> that first sunday was probably the lowest day of all my life. >> tears from a killer but not for his victims. copd makes it , so i wasn't playing much of a role in my own life, but with advair, i'm breathing better so now i can take the lead on a science adventure. advair is clinically proven to help significantly improve lung function.
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we return with "confessions of btk." >> dennis rader spent the morning of february 25th, 2005, on the job in park city, where, as the town's compliance officer, rader was responsible for things like corralling mad dogs or chewing people out if their grass grew too high. >> normal work day. didn't have any suspicions. although, i had been really careful about watching people, and actions and stuff, i had been pretty good about that. >> he says he noticed nothing unusual, except maybe a moment when he overheard on his police radio the fbi was up to something in his town.
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>> and i thought well, you know, maybe something's coming down. shall i run? but where would i have ran if they were after me? i just took a calculated guess that that was something else and hoped for it. >> then at midday, the killer went home for lunch. >> drove home, and as soon as i started to turn down the frontage road, i saw this whole line of police cars, and thought oh, that's not good. and it's just -- they were right on me that quick. i thought maybe it was a traffic stop or something. but once one of them was behind me with the red lights and sirens, i knew that was it. with that, dennis lynn rader, the man police believed to be btk, was finally in custody, after 31 years. >> they arrested me. i got out of the car. they pulled guns on me, told me to lay down. and i sprawled out, and grabbed real quick like with handcuffs and stuck me in a car. "mr. rader, do you know why you're going downtown?" i said, "i have suspicions why."
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at first, i was hoping that it was kind of a cat-and-mouse game, that they had a suspect. but it -- but it kind of hurt. you know? like i said, i had the power. i was a law enforcement officer, technically, and here i am, these law enforcement officers are trying to do their -- my duty. so, it kind of hurt a little bit. >> but before long, rader, in his self-obsessed arrogance, was talking up a storm. and says in this interview with the psychologist, he actually was having a good time connecting to the police officers. >> during the interrogation, it seems as though you were enjoying being one of them at times, almost like colleagues talking shop. >> camaraderie. camaraderie. yeah. we talked shop. i know a lot of police terminology. i know how they do things. so, yeah, it's kind of a bonding-type thing. >> did you enjoy it on any level? >> yes, i did.
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all i knew, i was sunk, i soon would be, but yeah, i enjoyed it. once the confession was out, and i admitted who i was, then the bonding really started. you know. i just really opened up. we shared jokes and everything else, just like we were buddies. >> he's proud of what he had done. he was having, in a perverse way, fun, talking with his colleagues, the police. >> what do you make of the camaraderie he says he enjoyed with all of the police officers who said they were interrogating him when he was arrested? >> well, it implies a certain degree of control here on the situation. i'm a good guy, they're a good guy, we're all in the same profession here. i work law enforcement, technically. he was a wannabe cop. it makes him feel better to think of them as peers. >> but however much rader may have imagined he was still in control, the reality was just the opposite. richard lamunyon, who once headed up the department rader dismisses as the keystone cops,
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says the script was going their way now. were they, in fact, playing him? >> absolutely. these officers that were interviewing him were hand picked. they had studied him. they knew the characteristics. they were playing to his ego, to his strength. they were bringing him up, making him think that, hey, we're buddy buddies. >> then just as quickly, they shut him down. the interview ended. the attention stopped, and the officers went home. it was only then rader tells the psychologist that the reality of his past and the impact on his future finally started to sink in. >> was there any way of getting out of this? you know, is there any possible way? i thought, no. there isn't any way. they've just got too much on me. most of my thoughts went back to my family, how were they taking it? the thing is just, you know, you're caught, and all of those things that you enjoyed, they're gone. you know, you just -- you know,
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you have to be in a position to realize it. i don't think normal people outside the world can visualize that. you know, it's just like right now. you know. just touch people and hold them and you know, your kids and stuff. it's -- i'm sorry. it's gone. >> this was one of the few moments during the interview where rader revealed any emotion, when he was talking about himself and his family. >> well, anyway -- you know, people don't realize that. once you're gone, you can't go out in the fresh air, walk your dog, hug your wife, kiss your wife. you know, go to the movies, have a pizza, hamburger. it's all gone. >> it's all about him. >> when you watch him, do you feel anything? >> you feel pain. because every time i'd see him, i'd see all of those victims and
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the tortured looks on their faces from all the crime scenes and what he actually did. he left that part out. he never mentioned it. >> instead, all rader could do was complain to the psychologist about how he missed all the attention he'd been receiving from his police interrogators. >> they did not come saturday. they did not come sunday. sunday was probably -- that first sunday was probably the lowest day in all my life. i was really depressed. >> he called it the lowest day of his life. can you imagine? this is a man who's already been arrested. he's ripped from his family probably forever. they despise him. oh, by the way, he's killed ten people. and the lowest day of his life is when the interrogation doesn't continue? doesn't this tell us a lot about dennis rader? >> and next, the killer gets his day in court. will heartbroken families get peace? >> people use the word closure. there is no such thing. this is an rc robotic claw. my high school science teacher made me what i am today. our science teacher helped us build it.
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msnbc reports continues with "confessions of btk." >> the bottom line, btk is arrested. >> while dennis rader sat in his cell with no one to satisfy his desire to keep talking about himself, the police and a cast of dozens proudly announced his capture to the citizens of wichita and the world. >> agents from the kbi, agents from the fbi and members of the wichita police department
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arrested dennis rader, 59, a white male. >> but it wasn't until late june, when rader appeared in court for what was supposed to be the first day of his trial, that people got a good look at, and earful from, the man who had killed so many people over so many years. instead of maintaining the not guilty plea he'd entered earlier, there was a surprise. >> mr. rader, would you please stand with counsel? sir, i have been advised it is your desire to enter a plea of guilty in this case, is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> people in and out of court listened aghast to rader as he detailed each murder in his cold, chilling, emotionless manner. >> i manually strangled her when she started to scream. >> ron loewen watched rader's court appearance on tv. >> people make a lot of the point that he didn't show any emotion. he was showing incredible emotion. the detail that he used, he
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paused and he'd search for words. the graphic, graphic descriptions he gave. this wasn't someone who was stumbling, who was nervous. this was showtime for him. he couldn't have asked for a better stage. >> the killer was clearly puffed up by his court appearance, by. bragging about it afterward when he spoke with the psychologist. >> it's only been a few hours since that hearing. how are you feeling? >> i really feel pretty good, it's like a big burden that's lifted off my shoulders. on the other hand, i feel like i'm a star right now. >> as you might expect, a certain police chief would love to lower the curtain on dennis rader right now. >> i would like to be the one to put him in a cell and turn the lights out. >> how does someone like dennis rader get to be this way? >> that's the $64,000 we don't completely know. part of it is the propensities that you're born with and part of it is the environment you're
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growing into. these are all the intangibles that we can't predict and don't fully understand. >> rader told the psychologist that he'll make amends in his way, to his god. >> i know it's personal, but can you tell me what you pray for? >> actually, like for the other day, i parade for the family would accept me on, there in court. that you know, that they would accept that as for giveness. >> whose family? >> my family. and also, the victim families that they, not that they could forgive me. but maybe someday, they could realize i got some problems. >> yeah, there's the classic understatement of the world. >> we asked jeff davis, the son of rader's last victim, what he thought about that. >> he does have problems, all of which are of his own making. he did not come from any abused family. he can't blame any environmental factors. he can't blame anybody or any
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sickness or being dropped on his head, i wish they would have dropped him a little harder. he can't blame anything. >> davis, who like so many other family members is also a victim of btk, wrote a book to help him and others cope with the trauma of loss and to make sure that people knew how special his more, delores, was. >> i would be damned if her legacy ended with her being murdered. a beautiful, loving, kind, gentle person, and her legacy is being murdered and dumped out in the ditch like a bag of dirty laundry for the dogs to go through. and i was not going to let that happen. >> just after davis' book was published in 1996, he received a letter from a taxpayer who davis now firmly believes was dennis rader. it has never before been made public. the letter said, we'll call the serial killer, the phantom of
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northern sedgewick county, which is where rader lived. and it also said, i'm sure that he probably blends in with a crowd. >> i'm jeffrey davis, son of dedeloris davis. he was able to speak directly to the killer. >> for the last 5,436 days, i wondered what it would be like to confront the walking ses pool that took my mother's precious life. even if you could fathom of depth of my heat redd for you, as of today, you no longer exist. >> charlie and his sister carmen spoke, too. >> raider, you not only affected my life, but you took away the joy of the ultimate grandparents, aunt and uncle relationship my children deserved. just recently, i realized i could not remember my mother's house, it was a painful discovery. as i put my thoughts on paper it comes to me, i am my mother's
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voice and i know we've been heard. >> family members of other victims gave their thoughts. >> on the day he dies, nancy and all of his victims will be waiting with god and watching him as he burns in hell. >> when it was time for rader to speak to the court, he characteristically showed little emotion. >> now that i've confessed, put myself out to let everybody know what's going on, i expect to heal and to have life. and hopefully someday, god will accept me. and finally, i apologize to the victims' families. there's no way that i can ever repay them. >> the murders were committed before kansas reinstated the death penalty. when it came time to sentence rader, the judge showed no mercy. giving him the maximum sentence. >> to serve a term of life for which he will not be parole eligible until the expiration of
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40 years. >> jeff davis said until he was able to confront the killer of his mother, he is left feeling empty. >> people use the word closure, there is no such thing. closure goes back to when you go back to that moment in time and it doesn't happen and the person is still there. >> charlie, who also faced a hard life after the murder of his parents, sister and brother, knows what davis means. >> i would wonder about what they were thinking and the feelings that they had while this was happening to them. >> this has been the most intense and challenging -- >> my family's murder is with me daily. it never leaves me, the memories of my family comes back to me. whenever i see a husband hug his wife or a father and a son play, i think of my family. and what i had lost. >> for so long, charlie, jeff davis and so many others have wanted to know why. why their loved ones were victims. and now they know. it was one man's inability to control his sexual fantasies, one man's depraved indifference
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to human life. and terrible coincidence for ten innocent people, who were caught in dennis rader's murderous web. >> i keep seeing these victims, i keep seeing these people that he tortured and murdersor murdered and killed and i just look at him in wonderment thinking how can someone just stand there and talk like we just had lunch and had sandwich or something and just go on with it. it just, evil, evil personified. that's all for now. i'm stone phillips, nor an curry and all of us at nbc news, thanks for watching. i had enough of feeling emba due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is i decided enough is enough. ♪ [ spa lady ] i started enbrel. it's clinically proven to provide clearer skin.
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